The Recruit: very refreshing

November 23rd, 2007

A different kind of spy movie. James (Colin Farrell) is the college kid who gets recruited into the CIA. We see him go from a civilian to an operative-in-training, in boot camp, learning the basic skills, not to mention learning some basic psychological devices.

What I really like about this story is how raw the characters are. This is not a story about a veteran in the field à la Jason Bourne, who knows everything, feels nothing, never fails. It's about a guy you can relate to, someone who is learning to understand, but still living through the pain of being put through all these things that are happening to him. The plot isn't brilliant, it's neat and tidy, almost simple. But the appeal of the movie isn't in that, it's in the characters, how real they are and how unrefined their reasoning and emotional response is.

The idea is nothing is what it seems, but they don't take this very far, they hold back so that the characters can tag along at their own pace. And that's.. nice. Most other stories try to push the envelope and many of them fail to resolve well. This one doesn't, and you can appreciate that they care more about the character development than the goal to have a complicated plot.

Enjoyable as it is, I just have to point out a few technical things. Forgive me, it's too much to look the other way, downright embarrassing at times. Okay, what the bad guys are after is "a virus", a computer virus. It turns out, though, that this is a magical virus that you can deploy right into the power socket in your house and it will infest the nation's whole power grid. Okay, that's just beyond bad. And James is the MIT kid who is a computer wiz. And we are supposed to buy this. Had they said it had something to do with electricity or whatever, maybe if they'd tried hard enough I'd bought it. But a computer virus on the power grid? Seriously, do 15min of research before you put that in a movie.

Secondly, as the guy duly explains, the CIA headquarters are well guarded, you can't take anything out of there. That's why the computers don't have disk drives. Yes, that's a quote. What kind of disk drives? Floppies? CDs? Zip drives? And you also can't print anything because they don't have printers. Uh-huh. Well that still leaves about a dozen different media you could use, including usb drives. And what do you know, that's precisely how the super clever villain exports this "virus" out of the building, hiding the usb stick in a coffee mug. Now, your typical computer virus is probably less than 1mb of source code, I mean these things have to be small to go unnoticed. But this mastermind is smuggling it out... in pieces. What do you got there, Photoshop? :D Like the whole thing wouldn't fit on the usb stick, so you have to do it in turns. Okay cmon, I'm on candid camera, who the hell would believe this?

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